This time, however, they’ll be outsourcing the work to third parties so that Uber can return to the driverless ride business. Uber announced on Wednesday that riders can now choose a self-driving car, thanks to a partnership with Motional, a company that makes self-driving cars.
The service is now available in Sin City, with plans to roll it out to other major metropolises soon after. Customers can use the Uber app to order a ride in one of Motional’s all-electric IONIQ 5 robot taxis by choosing UberX or Uber Comfort Electric. Users will be given the option to participate before the reservation is finalized.
For a time, Uber had its own in-house self-driving car unit that provided autonomous rides (Uber ATG). However, getting to this point has not been easy for the business. Anthony Levandowski, a senior executive at Uber, was let go that same year for stealing self-driving trade secrets from his former employer, Google.
One of Uber’s autonomous vehicles struck and killed a pedestrian in 2018. (the operator was charged with negligent homicide). Due to the pandemic’s effect on the ride-hailing industry, Uber divested its autonomous vehicle division to Aurora, an AV company backed by Amazon.
With the help of Motional, however, Uber is finally getting moving. Earlier this year, Uber Eats started using autonomous vehicles (AVs) from Motional to make deliveries. With Uber’s help, Motional will offer transportation services, including deliveries.
A car’s initial passengers will also include the vehicle’s driver. However, by 2023, Uber hopes to have completely eliminated the need for human drivers. Interestingly, Lyft intends to do just that. At CES 2018, there was an alternative to Uber that had teamed up with Motional and would start offering driverless rides in Las Vegas in 2018. They plan to reach full driverless capability by the year 2023.